Memerto Tindongan, born and raised a member of the Ifugao tribe in the Phillippines, brought his traditional healing methods, crafting techniques, and old-world minimalism to the U.S. in 1991.
As described by author Sarah Franks in the Post, Tindogan was diagnosed with Meniere’s disease after his undergraduate career in the Phillippines. He has found comfort in his condition by finding joy in the simplicities of Philippine culture.
Everything about Tindongan, his home, his clothing, his possessions, are simple. Often hand-crafted, his minimal-luxury, maximum utility way of living has allowed him a happy, long life in the woods of Athens, Ohio. By giving up his fear of not having enough, Tindongan has embraced the bare necessities of his existence.
As a coping method for the chronic inner ear disease, Tindongan is a devoted practitioner of Kolaimni, the ancient Phillipine natural remedy of light therapy. A master woodcarver since the age of eight, Tindongan’s can be found in his southeastern Ohio home sculpting beautifully ornate canoes, tools, abstract sculptures, and gifts for his neighbors. In addition, he has established himself as a world-class competitor in the ancient art of atlatl or spear throwing used by humans since the Ice Age.
According to The Post, “A professor asked me how is this hut, the canoe, the spears are related to healing, and I told them, this simple way of life — when you are doing it — it helps you remember who you are,” said Tindongan. “Simpler lives in the past I think people were happier.”
Since his Meniere’s disease diagnosis, his work has become his therapy. In 2005 he took on a new outlook to the disease that can flare up without warning.
“It’s the hardest thing for me. You have to stay still. You don’t move any muscle. Even just moving your eyeball is enough to throw up,” said Tindongan. “Now I actually don’t see it as something bad — I see it as a blessing because it served as a warning, an antenna. … Now when I get (vertigo), I stay still, just sit down and meditate. I learned how to do still meditation because of it, I had no choice.”
And though Tindongan will never charge for his healing or meditative services, he has garnered a following of students and community members alike who have provided monetary contributions to their wise friend.